School design refers to the physical and systemic design of a school and its learning environment. In order to support Great Learning, schools should be backward designed with the goal of Great Learning at the forefront of any decisions. For example, a learning environment should be designed to meet the needs of all learners and therefore contain adequate accessible instructional materials and the necessary space for their use. A learning environment should also be designed to foster personal standards such as creativity or core values. A backward designed environment ensures that the aim of Great Learning is supported by the physical infrastructure.
In contrast, a school that does not examine how school design may influence Great Learning risks spending money on projects that have minimal impact. An example of this would be a school that develops a multi-million dollar theatre without examining the benefits and opportunity costs, and therefore impact that it has on learning, particularly by not considering other projects that might have a significantly greater benefit at a much lower cost.